Trick or Treating is not the same as it used to be. Now added to the list of concerns parents have when trick or treating, is their fear of people designated as sex offenders or predators.
Sexual predators and sexual offenders are different classifications based on certain criteria under the Florida Statutes. Through the Public Safety Information Act of 1997, Florida began listing sexual offender information available through a 24 hour a day hotline and on the Internet. Both sex offenders and sexual predators must register with the Florida department of Law Enforcement and their names, addresses and picture are posted on the sexual offender database.
The holiday of Halloween not only brings special concern to parents but also to offenders. In Florida, there are special requirements on Halloween for sex offenders and sexual predators, such as not being able allowed to display Halloween decorations, distribute candy or leave their outside lights on. However many state restrictions only apply to those individuals who are currently on supervised probation. As a result, many counties have stepped in by imposing different additional requirements on Halloween. These requirements vary by each county and each year there are changes so sex predators and sex offenders need to make sure they know the rules in the county in which they reside.
Jacksonville.com reported that in Duval and Saint johns county during Halloween sex offenders and predators are required to post a sign in their yard stating that they have no candy or treats at this residence, nor can they have on any outside lights or participate in any activities.
There is debate by experts and residents alike on whether or not additional requirements are needed for special events like Halloween. For example a probation officer in Palm Beach County has been quoted as saying that “Unsuspecting parents visit houses where sex offenders reside. Kids go up to the door with parents standing back…Once sex offenders get them on their property, as manipulative as they are, they can have the opportunity to maybe snatch a kid or maybe molest a kid.”
However, researchers at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fl found that during Halloween there is no rise in sexual assaults when compared with any other time of year. Jill Levenson, a professor at commented that “The laws restricting sex offenders make parents and communities feel safer, but there’s no proof that they reduce the risk of sexual abuse.”
In addition to the website and phone line that parents can call to check on sex offenders, there are several phone applications that provide sex offender information.
Any time you or a loved one is charged with a sex crime or a crime in Jacksonville that if you were to plea guilty may require you to register as a sex offender or predator, you must contact a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney immediately.
A Jacksonville Criminal Layer can evaluate your case, and if you make the decision that you would rather negotiate with the state than have a trial, a Jacksonville Criminal Lawyer can enter into negotiations with the state and sometimes have your charges changed or reduced so that you are not deemed a sex offender or predator under Florida Law. If you would like to schedule a free consultation with a Jacksonville Criminal Attorney, you can contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman at (904) 685-1200.